Rick Reilly's mailbag: I wrote, you wrote

I wrote ... If there's one thing new journalism graduates can to do help themselves it's to stop writing for free. It only cuts the bottom out of the market and cheapens the craft.

Slate agreed with me and wrote...

The journalism world got all flappy about this, according to Romenesko. "Useless," NBC Sports baseball blogger Craig Calcaterra wrote. "Really, really bad advice," wrote Jason Fry, a former Wall Street Journal staffer turned freelancer and consultant.

And now, a word from ... Samuel Johnson:

No man but a blockhead ever wrote, except for money.

A columnist in the L.A. Times agreed with me. Plenty of writers, paid and unpaid, didn't. But it's stirred up a small hornet's nest among those who blog for free and make millions for sites like The Huffington Post (which just sold for $315 million to AOL).

A recent poll by the Media Industries Project at UC-Santa Barbara found that 69 percent of HP's unpaid bloggers think they should be paid to write, and that 96 percent percent of them think their stuff is as good as or better than the work of the paid staffers.

The truth is, if you're writing your own blog for free just to get practice and a little exposure, that's fine. If you're in college and you're taking an unpaid internship at a website or newspaper, that's fine, as long as you're getting college credit.

But if you're writing constantly for a website or magazine that is selling ads and making money and you're getting nothing? You're a fool. Demand to be paid. If you can't find anybody willing to pay you to write, maybe it's time to try something else.

I wrote... The Miami Heat are doing the hardest thing in sports -- living up to the hype. The way the three SuperFriends colluded to play on one team is destructive to the league, but the way they're playing is a joy.

You wrote ...

Reilly, the three amigos "colluding" to win a ring is not going to ruin the NBA for the following reasons: 1. In the NBA, people love stars over laundry. 2. The NBA thrives when the NBA Finals rock. 3. The Finals rock when it is filled with stars. 4. If the Heat make the Finals, then the Finals will be filled with stars. 5. Therefore, if the Heat make the Finals, the NBA thrives.

-Dan Wheeler, Greenville, SC

The Heat is still Mr. Wade's team in spite of what LeBron does. By joining up with two other superstars he proved that he does not have the mettle, or fortitude to make those around him better.

-Chuck Dennis, Maryland

I grew up very close to Cleveland and am a Cavs fan, naturally. I was in the same boat as you. As soon as LeBron left for Miami, I couldn't WAIT for them to fall flat on their face. Unfortunately, I may be waiting years for that to happen if they keep playing the way they have in this year's playoffs.

-Andy Baylor, San Diego

I wrote ... If you re-drafted the 2006-2008 NFL drafts knowing what you know now, the New Orleans Saints would've proved themselves to be the wisest and the Seattle Seahawks the dumbest.

You wrote...

Really interesting article, one glaring omission. Marques Colston. The guy went in the 7th round and plays like a 1st rounder.

-Bryce Cohen, Metairie, LA

You would honestly take Devin Hester ahead of Greg Jennings and Brandon Marshall?

-Brent Gostomski, NY, NY

One thing we learned is why the NFC West sucks so much now. The bottom three teams are all from that division, with the Arizona Cardinals not far behind.

-West Garrett, Austin, TX

I wrote ... Seve Ballesteros was a player you couldn't help watch, with his incomparable rescue shots, his dashing ways and his unending thirst to win at all costs.

You wrote ...

Let me get this straight. The guy cheats in the middle of the Ryder Cup and you think it is ok. Maybe Barry Bonds should have shot up on deck. I like Seve, but just because he died at 54 does not make him better than any other cheater. By the way, I didn't know this about Seve until you brought it up.

-Jon, Tucson, AZ

What Seve did wasn't cheating. What Seve did was gamesmanship. Personally, I hate gamesmanship, but there's no penalty for it. I was merely trying to describe what the man was like, down to the bone.

As a teenage golfer, I enjoyed watching Seve as much as any American; but the coin jingling, stealth mowing, and other antics crossed the line. And who transformed the Ryder Cup from a spirited, but classy golf match into a jingoistic, mean-sprited, death match with Flyers fans? Seve! He was the rah rah captain who taught his fellow golfers and fans that it is okay to act like a horse's ass. Without Seve, Justin Leonard never happens. Seve was a great golfer, but let's be honest - he was kind of an a**hole.

-John Healy, Ridgefield, Connecticut

I remember seeing the parking lot shot in '79 on TV. Given the circumstances, I thought it was the best shot I had ever seen at the time, and now I hear he and his caddy were aiming at the parking lot because that provided the best angle to the flag on the second shot. Seve was a blast when he came up. It was obvious Jack's game was starting to fade, leaving a competitive void with Watson alone at the top ... and here came Severiano. Those were good times. My number never got that low again, my game was never better. Life goes by quick, man.

-Scott MacMichael, Fresno, CA

I wrote ... New Orleans Hornets guard Chris Paul has not only forgiven the five teenaged boys who murdered his grandfather, he would like to see them freed from prison.

You wrote ...

I'm glad our legal system does not allow family members to determine the punishments of their relatives' murderers! While I am absolutely convinced that Chris Paul is a class act, I can't believe anyone would want five cold-blooded killers released after serving just six years. Chris, try to understand that they aren't in prison to make you feel better - they are there to prevent someone else's grandfather from getting killed.

-Spencer Hughes, Ames, IA

I want to make sure that if I am ever put in a difficult position like the great Chris Paul, that I will act and react with such grace and courage. That is called inspiration.

-Warren Bradley, Lansdale, PA

I knew Mr Jones. During the gas shortage of 1973 (I was 8 years old), my dad ran a brick mason company and needed gas for his dump trucks, etc to keep working. Mr Jones would open his filling station at 4am just for my dad so he could fill up in the dark before the public came around 6am or so and waited in line most of the day.

I once had to drive to Hampton, VA and my car wouldn't pass inspection because of bald tires. He lent me tires until I returned and could afford my own.

Many, many times my mom, or someone in my family would have a stalled car due to battery, alternator, etc. and we would just call Mr Jones and he would send his only mechanic Willie (who was disabled, having only one arm) to our house to fix the car in our driveway instead of towing it, although it meant not having him available at the station for customers. The Gulf station was full service back then and usually only Willie and Mr Jones were there.

This kind of personal service and friendship was even more rare in those days, and in this area, because my family is white. He and my dad (who died when I was 10) must have had some kind of bond for him to continue helping our family so much even after he died and into my late teens and my mom always.

Mr Jones always ignored differences in people (hiring Willie), helping people of all colors, because he was truly a kind man and probably the last person I remember being a good neighbor in this country. Local businesses don't care about people like he did. I really miss Mr Jones and love hearing about him.

Thanks for giving me a place to finally share these stories.

-Todd Stevens

I wrote ... that not all NFL players are millionaires wondering if they'll have to get rid of their eighth Lexus during the lockout. Some of them are young guys wondering how they're going to make ends meet.

You wrote:

The fact that some NFL players are in a relatively difficult financial situation compared to the owners has no bearing on the morality of who is right or who is wrong. My advice to you: read Leviticus. You shouldn't favor either the rich or the poor on the basis of their financial standing. Justice is not on the side of the players just because they're less well off.

-RJ Jordan, Philadelphia

Thanks! I did read Leviticus and found it to be quite enlightening and useful in solving our modern dilemmas. For instance, in Leviticus I found out:

--I can't shave.

--If I curse my parents, I have to be killed.

--If I have a flat nose or am blind, I can't go to an altar of God.

Thanks for making me wake up and smell the frankincense!

Loved this piece on the lockout and the struggles guys are facing, in comparison to the owners. We appreciate you painting the picture that most people don't get, or even get to see/hear. Hopefully this all gets worked out, I know none of us dreamed as kids that THIS is the NFL we would love to be playing in.

-- Dan Orlovsky, QB, Houston Texans

I'll give it to you Rick. You wrote the most compelling article I've ever seen at making the public feel sorry for 20-year-olds who make $200k per year, playing a sport, struggle to make ends meet. Oh the tragedy! How will they survive this?! Personally, I think you did the best you could. You've got a great big heart sir.

-Brian Kight, Columbus, OH

Rick, you have GOT to be kidding me with your "Making Tight Ends Meet" column. I'm with you that the owners should take a large majority of the blame for this lockout, but I can't support the logic that someone who clears $200,000 per year has to struggle through life. As for "student" athletes entering the draft this year who are claiming that they have nothing else to fall back on, well maybe they should have taken advantage of that college education, especially given the fact that most of them will be out of the league in 2-4 years.

-Tim, Apollo Beach, FL

Rick, as a business owner, this was a "cut and dried" debate for me; I was on the owners' side. Let the players start their own league.........Thanks for presenting the non-star player perspective. I am now leaning towards a more moderate solution.

-Gregg, Buffalo, NY

Can you please pass on a message to Brian Schaefering for me? We have a job for him building bars in Vermont and delivering them all over the country. And we will beat his asking price of $12.


Chris Meyer, VT

I wrote ... BYU's Jimmer Fredette, Player of the Year in college basketball, is a wonderful kid with an amazing will to score, but he'll be a disaster in the pros.

You wrote ... I was an idiot and a Mormon basher.

Then I wrote ... It had nothing to do with religion and everything to do with The Jimmer being less interested in defense than a lion in a tofu burger.

Then you wrote ...

I'm a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, but not a BYU fan. Please don't mix the two. In fact, I was embarrassed by my fellow church members and their rebuttal to your perfectly worded, critically thought out article on Jimmer. I thought it was fine. I thought you did what each writer should do; study the facts, then address the issue at hand. My wife and I got a laugh as we read the responses of some very obtuse BYU fans. Way to "turn the other cheek." My fellow Cougar Blue Kool-Aid drinking Jimmer fans made the religion I practice look bad.

-Doug Harris, Salt Lake City

I wrote ... The Chicago Bulls would stun the world and win it all, defeating the Los Angeles Lakers in the Finals. Admittedly, I have a glue-sniffing problem.

You wrote ...

Thanks for cursing the Bulls, ya jackwagon.

-Chris G., Chicago, IL

Care to eat a little crow Ricky? Zach Randolph carried Memphis on his back and into the 2nd round. Thank goodness for that "Punk Chromosome"!!!!!

-Jeff Link, Memphis, TN

It's true. I said Memphis wouldn't get anywhere in the playoffs because they have Zach Randolph and he has "an extra punk chromosome." I was very wrong. Randolph played with guts and heart, leading the Grizzlies into the second round. And I've received 100s of emails telling me what a great guy he is. It's possible I have an extra bonehead chromosome.

I think you owe the man an apology. Zach has a checkered past but the man really has changed during his time in Memphis. Every year he buys kids gifts at Christmas. Every year he pays for families' utility bills in the winter. Zach Randolph has done some amazing things for this city. Come to Memphis and see for yourself this next weekend.

-Evan Winburne, TN

I wrote ... It gives me great pleasure to be able to type, for the rest of my life, "Barry Bonds, convicted felon."

You wrote ...

Rick, I'd love you to be right about Barry Bonds. He lied but one person didn't think so or was bought. Therefore they could not convict on perjury. They convicted on something that will be overturned. I wish you could, but don't think you'll be able to call him convicted felon for much longer. Enjoy it while you can. He deserves it but it won't last.

-Vincent Fisher, San Diego, CA

There are far worse people than Bonds in this world, and to demonize him is just a way for you to get headlines, and serve as another distraction to the real criminals in this world. In fact, had the nation spent have (sic) the time investigating the risks of going into Iraq instead of steroids in baseball, we may have saved the lives of thousands of American troops, millions of Iraqi civilians, and the economic repercussions of starting wars we can't finish.

-Andrwe, Los Angeles

OK, so let me see if I have this right:

a) Sportswriters are the reason we're in Iraq.

b) Bonds isn't the felon, George Bush is.

c) I'm responsible for the lost lives of thousands of troops and civilians.

Got it.

Do you get sharp things in the home?

I wrote... Not all Augusta National members are rich, uncaring billionaires. Brad Boss, for instance, the former CEO of Cross pens, went out of his way to pay for a fine grave site for his long-time caddy, plus flew in from Boston to attend the viewing and the services.

You wrote ...

It's stories like this that make the Augusta National Golf Club not only a great and prestigious place, but that make it a place filled with people who really do care about "everyday people". The fact that the roars of Amen Corner can be heard from this man's grave makes me stop, shed a tear, and say......wow.

-William Cranman, FL

Who cares about a dead caddy? For the love of god, find something interesting to write about...

-Don Brown, Louisville, KY

I'm guessing you had no fears of being taken up in the Rapture?

I wrote ... Brainy CalTech won its first conference basketball game in 26 years, a joyous occasion that could only be matched by the discovery of the Heisenberg Uncertainty.

You wrote ...

After (Brandon) Davies was suspended from BYU, I was saying that if having sex disqualified you from playing college basketball, the only two schools that would be able to field a five-man team would be BYU and Caltech.

--Ralph Hayward

Caltech, class of 1975

I wrote ... Hueytown (AL) High School is finding out baseball can be a relief, win or lose, when the rest of your day involves putting your life together after losing everything in a tornado.

You wrote ...

I felt attached to (this column) since the game I umpired was the Briarwood-Hueytown game three. Briarwood came from behind and won 8-4. ... You could tell in the big crowd it was a relief for people to get away. They were not in a hurry to leave, very unusual for a loss. There were prayers before the game, and no one dared complain.


Rick, I'm a dog person - thanks for including that Lexi was found after all.

-Barbara, Long Beach, CA